With 0 corners scored from 106 corners taken and a massive 8 goals conceded from 154 corners faced (a 5.19% corner conceded rate), Brighton are the worst team in the Premier League both offensively and defensively from corners and considering how tight the bottom half of the Premier League is – this must be a real concern for Chris Hughton and his staff. In this part, I’ll investigate what Brighton could potentially do to tighten up defensively from corners.
Leicester – 19/8/17
2 Brighton players come across in case of the short corner with one player on the edge of the area to block a shot from range/be a potential counter-attack threat, one player zonal marks the near post whilst another takes the middle of the 6-yard area with the remaining players man-marking.
This isn’t a terrible defensive set-up, although I do have doubts about putting 2 players there for the short corner. It’s incredibly rare in the Premier League for players to dribble after a short corner (the main reason for having 2 players there) and is mostly used to get a new angle for a cross into the box. This would’ve allowed a free player to either zonal mark the back post or the back of the 6-yard area. My choice would be the 6-yard area although in this instance a man on the back post may have been able to prevent the goal.
Stoke – 20/11/17
Stoke are clever in their attack (as their 6.06% corner conversion ratio would show) and attack from the back of the area – meaning the goalkeeper can’t watch the players and the ball at the same time.
That being said, the first thing that jumps out at me from this defensive set-up is how weak the most crucial area (the middle of the 6-yard box) is defensively, with only Glenn Murray (#17) in that area along with Shane Duffy (#22) who’s man marking.
This could be remedied by moving one of the 2 players from the edge of the box into that central area, in the clip there’s only one Stoke player hovering outside the area meaning 2 players are pointless – although I suspect there’s another Stoke player out of shot – but one Brighton player in between both the Stoke players would still likely manage to do the job. The 2 players on the edge are Pascal Gross (#13) and Jose Izquierdo (#19) – both not tall players (at 5”9 and 5”6 respectively), but could definitely be better utilised.
Liverpool – 2/12/17
This is a painful corner to watch defensively. Both Bruno Saltor (#2) and Davy Propper (#24) are man-marking the 2 Liverpool players that are in the 6-yard box with both Murray (#17) and Dale Stephens (#6) zonal marking the same area – this means there are 4 Brighton players essentially marking 2 Liverpool players in the same area. This should then be the responsibility of the zonal markers, leaving Bruno and Propper to defend elsewhere – most likely the crucial area in the middle of the 6-yard box, which is left wide open and is the area where the goal came from.
All credit to Liverpool for this corner though as they’d obviously done their homework on how Brighton set-up.
Huddersfield – 9/12/17
Again not a terrible defensive set-up from Brighton with most of the main areas covered well, however, I would question the positioning of Ezequiel Schelotto (#21) who’s marking nobody, nor covering a dangerous area and has found himself in a bit of a no-man’s land.
Chelsea – 26/12/17
Yet again too many players in positions they don’t need to be in. Solly March (#20) is in no-man’s land – presumably he’s supposed to be a blocker for any Chelsea players attack the near corner of the 6-yard box – except he’s watching the ball and any Chelsea player attacking that area can run straight past him (and they do if you re-watch the clip).
Beram Kayal (#7) is also in an odd position, but I presume he’s put there to stop a low pass to Victor Moses on the edge of the area (which is a tactic I’ve seen Chelsea use a few times this season), but Chelsea would need a lot to go right for the ball to go in – I’d say it’s a very low-quality chances – Moses would need to hit the ball first time and to avoid the plenty of bodies in the way in order to be successful.
Bournemouth – 1/1/18
Another club being clever with their corners both with the movement and also by having some players outside of the goalkeeper’s peripheral vision. There’s not a lot wrong with the initial Brighton set-up here, Bournemouth have sent 6 men forward that are man-marked which leaves 4 players for Brighton to use. One is sent across for the short leaving just 3 to zonal mark the 6-yard box. Brighton obviously prioritise the near post so 2 players are used for that leaving just one player to take the central area. Personally, I’d prioritise this area over the near post area, but it comes down to personal preference.
Another potential idea is not to man-mark every player sent forward – when defending corners players can be manipulated easily by runs into an area not being attacked, creating space for another player to run into. By zonal marking key areas, this threat is removed and can create a strong base to build a defensive setup from. Whilst I wouldn’t implement a full zonal marking system, maybe man-marking Bournemouth’s 3 or 4 biggest threats and moving a couple of players to zonal mark key areas may see an improvement.
West Brom – 13/1/18
Again this isn’t a terrible defensive set-up. One player obviously has to come across for the short. There’s a player zonal marking the area near the post which is fine, and as with Bournemouth above, Brighton are man-marking all 6 players that West Brom have sent forward that I don’t think is really necessary and am sure a couple of those players could be better utilised zonal marking the middle of the 6-yard area.
West Brom – 13/1/18
My point for the last 2 corners is reinforced here – West Brom crowds the 6-yard area, manipulating their markers into following them. This then has a knock-on effect of creating space in the box for other West Brom players to then attack.
Brighton could potentially be in a lot of trouble unless they improve both defensively and offensively from corners – the Premier League is so tight that nobody from 10th downwards can say with any confidence that they’ll be safe at the end of the season. Spending more time on analysis and in training on set-pieces is a cheap and easy way to potentially make a difference on the pitch.
Brighton’s problems largely stem from the use of their players. They defend with all 11 players back (ideal for being defensively solid) but could be a lot cleverer in their positioning. Man-marking with 6 players will mean that your defence can be easily manipulated as we saw with Bournemouth and West Brom. A physical side full of aerial threats such as West Brom I’d man mark with 4 players, probably cutting that down to 3 for Bournemouth. The others I’d use to zonal mark key positions either identified by further analysis (where teams usually tend to focus their attacks) or just reinforcing the “danger area” directly in front of the goal.
In Part 2 I’ll look at Brighton’s woes at the other end of the pitch – trying to score from corners.